A Word from the FBS Team: Today’s blog post is by Larissa Ferraro. Larissa is a 2018 graduate of Faith Bible Seminary’s MA in Biblical Counseling. Larissa is Brazilian and ministers as a biblical counselor in Brazil.
Thankful for Affliction
I love God’s Word and how it applies directly to our daily life. Two of my favorite verses in the Bible are Psalm 119:71-72.
“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”
I am thankful for the times God allowed me to be afflicted. He used the times of suffering throughout my life to draw me closer to Him. In fact, God saved me in one of those moments.
I came from a non-Christian home, but when I was around eleven, a friend from school invited me to church. It was a church were the Bible was not very well taught. They talked a lot about the things they believe God was supposed to give us. But they never taught about our condition as sinners. Even though the teaching was not very good, it was there where I had my first contact with a Bible. At that time, I learned that God had written a book and I could find instructions for life in that book. I also learned that there was only one true God and that I had to worship just Him. I learned some things about God, but nothing about myself. I did not understand the gospel of Jesus Christ.
My parents were against me going to church and since I was a child, I had to stop attending church. I lived away from God through my youth and as Judges 21:25 says about Israel, I was doing what was “right in my own eyes.”
Living for myself brought me a lot of suffering. When I was around nineteen, I struggled with depression, panic attacks, and an eating disorder. I tried many things to escape those problems, but nothing seemed to work. I went to psychologists, took psychotropics, tried many diets, but the pain in my soul did not disappear. I used to have some improvement while taking medicine, but after some time I would start feeling depressed again. At that time, I had no idea that the Bible could offer me the answers I needed.
In 2001, I moved to another city in Brazil and it was then that God brought me the first time to the end of myself. Life in the new town was hard. I got sick, my parents got divorced, and I had no job. I met my husband (boyfriend then) at the University. Our relationship was not good and we know that we only stayed together because of God’s mercy and grace.
In 2008, I started working with a friend who was a Christian. God used him to bring my husband to saving faith in Christ, and we started attending church. I did not understand the gospel of Jesus yet at this that time. In my mind, I was just going back to the habit of going to church, as “good people” do.
After listening to our story, the pastor from the church we were attending explained to me and my boyfriend (husband now) that we needed to get married because God did not approve of our living together. We got married in 2008, but soon started having problems in our marriage.
In 2010, our marriage was practically over. I was depressed again and I did not know what to do. Once more, God took me to the end of myself and it was the best thing that happened in my life. It was then that I understood the gospel of Jesus. I understood that I was a sinner and I needed Jesus Christ desperately. I prayed, I repented from my sins, and He saved me. My heart was transformed by that experience.
Our New Story in Christ
I asked my husband’s forgiveness because I was destroying my marriage. Proverbs 14:1 says that “the wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” I was the foolish one, but I repented. My husband forgave me and we decided it was time to have children.
We started trying to have children, but I was still depressed. I went to a psychiatrist and she said she could not give me medication because I was trying to get pregnant. I felt desperate because my hope was in the medicine to help me feel better. I talked to a friend and she told me about a Biblical Counseling Conference that would start in some weeks. I had never heard about biblical counseling, but I had no other choices. I decided to attend the conference.
It was the first year of the ABCB (Brazilian Association of Biblical Counselors) Conference in my town. I fell in love with biblical counseling in that conference. I was so amazed how God had answers for all my non-organic problems. When the conference ended, I called the leaders and said that I wanted to serve them some way. I wanted to help organize the conference every year and I wanted to study more to be a teacher one day. It was like a very distant dream, but I was really excited about it.
Since that first conference, I got involved in the organization of the event that happens once a year in my town. During that time, I found out that I had a health problem and could not have children. It was a hard time for me, I suffered a lot, but once more God taught me a valuable lesson: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
God transformed my heart and ministered to my soul in my infertility. God`s grace is sufficient for me. God showed me that I could be a mother, even if I did not have children of my own. I started counseling in my church and through this ministry God gave me many children. I am so grateful for that.
This year (2018), I finished the MABC program at Faith Bible Seminary. I learned so much through the MABC, and as a result of my training God has been giving me many opportunities to teach biblical counseling in Brazil.
I gave up my career as a business woman last year and my schedule is now always full of biblical study and biblical counseling. I visit churches around Brazil teaching about depression, anxiety, femininity, and many other topics for women. I am working on a book about intimacy in marriage for women. I also teach at the ABCB Conference about the role of the wife, infertility, and eating disorders.
My distant dream is now my real life.
It is because of those things, that I am grateful for hard times in my life. God had comforted me and now gives me the opportunity to comfort others with the comfort that He gave me (2 Corinthians 1:4). To God be all the glory.